Date of this Version
Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
A collection of samitum was found in the Norwegian Viking burial Osebert (834 CE) in 2014. I got the opportunity to study some of the fragments and could reconstruct a nearly full pattern unit from six narrow bands, once cut from the same fabric. I wove a small piece of this fabric in my ordinary flatloom, using both modern dyestuff and fabric spun silk material. Fragments found in Egypt from 400 AD show that both tapestry and taquete were woven in the same fabric. When searching for the loom used for the original samitum fabric, I made a vertical warp in a tubular setup. I picked the pattern by hand, both in the vertical and my ordinary loom. The vertical loom saved me a lot of work and felt understandable. The lack of a reed also gave me a better working space for the picking. The fragments of the reconstructed samitum fabric did not reveal the whole pattern unit in the weft direction. By estimating and knowing the density of the innerwarp/filling warp/main warp, a repeating pattern, in weft direction, needs 126 pattern shafts. For a test making pattern shafts, rope was tightened up 15 cm from the warp, from an attachment point on each side of the warp. Rope served as shafts, and heddles were tied from the ropes/shafts to every inner warp end in a system. For a modern weaver, this is unfamiliar to handle, but it is possible that this arrangement was done to control 126 pattern shafts/rods. The structure in early patterned weaves, jin (always made in silk), taquete (samitum’s predecessor), and tablet weave are the same. They all appear in Inner Asia before 800 CE. The equipment, the warp orientation, and how to make the pattern were different. Still, weavers must have been inspired and affected from all the three methods.